News

Road roster includes the congested and the weird

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

The city’s roster of road work projects is in full swing to address difficult intersections, backed-up traffic and neighborhood safety concerns in various places throughout Federal Way.

City traffic engineers held a 21st Avenue Southwest neighborhood meeting last month after residents there asked the City Council for help controlling speeders on their street. The street has qualified several times for traffic-calming measures under the city’s neighborhood traffic safety program, but has failed to pass the balloting process for implementation.

At the neighborhood meeting, residents agreed speed tables would be an effective solution and asked if the city could bypass the balloting process this time. The city’s Land-Use and Transportation Committee agreed to skip the voting by property owners and residents, but revised the proposal to install two raised crosswalks — speed tables with crosswalk lines painted on them — and three speed bumps instead.

Traffic engineers were prepared to put the issue on the Aug. 3 council agenda, but Mayor Dean McColgan asked for a delay to give people enough time to comment, since the balloting process was bypassed.

The council did approve a contract with Opus Northwest, developer of the Federal Way Crossings commercial center being built near the Interstate 5-State Route 18 junction, for signal improvements at the intersection of State Routes 18 and 161 (Enchanted Parkway).

Because Federal Way Crossings is expected to add traffic to several intersections near the site and impact traffic flow around it, Opus is required under city code to pay for its share of traffic impacts.

But since the city already had listed several of the same projects in the six-year Transportation Improvement Plan, officials drafted a contract with Opus to have the developer do all the work at one time and the city to reimburse the company for its share of the costs.

The contract allows the projects to be done all at once rather than splitting them up between Opus’ and the city’s schedules, ultimately reducing the impact to drivers who have to use the affected roads.

The council also approved traffic engineers’ recommended modifications to the intersection of South 356th Street and Pacific Highway South as part of a project to improve the awkward intersection.

As part of the project, the east part of the intersection will be reconfigured to run in line with the portion of the intersection on the west side of Pacific. Currently, the east side angles north, creating a time-consuming, arrow-intensive traffic signal that keeps several directions of travel stopped while others move through the intersection.

The recommended modification was one of four alternatives, and while it’s not the cheapest at almost $7.2 million, it came in under a $7.3 million roundabout proposal and an almost $10 million proposal to eliminate the east leg’s hard angle altogether.

The city currently has $2.3 million available for the project, but even with an expected $3.9 million Transportation Improvement Board grant, the city remains almost $1 million short. Officials will continue applying for grants for the remainder.

An unrelated project to improve the intersection of South 320th Street and First Avenue South is moving forward with plans to add a second left-turn lane in all four directions, add north, south and westbound right-turn lanes and widen First to five lanes from South 316th Street to South 320th.

The South 320th project budget is almost $6.4 million, of which the city has $1.3 million. If the city gets a Transportation Improvement Board grant of $3.8 million, the resulting shortfall will be about $1.3 million.

The council approved extending 21st Avenue South from South 318th to South 320th, a couple blocks past Sound Transit’s work to extend the road from South 316th to South 318th.

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